La discrète (1990) - full transcript

There is an author who has been dumped by his girlfriend and has no inspiration for a next novel. In an attempt to find a solution to both crises, he, along with his publisher friend, ...

Saturday, March 24.

Everything began on that day
at the Gare de l'Est.

I noted in my diary:
"Solange left me this morning."

It's the first time a woman
dumps me.

I usually arrange to be
the first to leave.

- Hello.
- Hello.

What's wrong?

You could've told me
you're coming.

So I'm telling you.

You could've phoned me,
let me know.

I wanted to surprise you.

You shouldn't have come
like this.

I've been thinking about this
and I meant to talk to you.

But it bothers me
to do it here.

You remember what
you once told me?

We were up all night,

I remember it well,
I wrote it down at once.

It was dawn,
you said:

"Antoine, I've never had such physical
intimacy with anyone but you."

When one hears about
such intimacy,

one can't believe it may end...

So when it does, one thinks:

"It's just a mistake,
she's only testing me."

- No, not really.
- Then what?

Can't you realize
that I've had enough,

that I don't want to see you
or to live with you anymore?

So all we've had together
doesn't mean anything?

Those months, those nights,
those words that you said:

"I've never had such intimacy
with anyone but you."

- It's different now.
- I can see that.

I'll even bet with this guy
on a certain level...

- It has nothing to do with it.
- It's not quite...

I don't ask about your lovemaking,
although I could.

How is it really?

- You can only think about that!
- What is love for you?

A man's compliments to a woman only
mean he wants to sleep with her.

Say or think of me
what you will.

Call me every name in the book -

I don't care.

You remember what you
once told me:

"Antoine, I'm scared."

"Scared of what?" I asked.

You replied: "I'm scared
of what is happening to us."

And you added: "I'm even more
scared it might end."

I'm not really into
3-way relationships,

but for you, I could've
made an effort,

I could've suggested we'd meet
behind his back...

if I hadn't seen him.

But now when I have,
the prospect is terrifying!

God knows I want you but now
it's just impossible!

It's too much for me.
I'm rambling. So long.

This morning I went to
the Gare de l'Est,

rather tickled with my plan
for our break-up.

I meant to tell her like Guitry
to one of his wives:

"Let's make peace now.
Let's separate."

- Except that...
- Except that...

She didn't show up?

Yes, she did but not alone.

It seems rather banal.

I'm afraid it is.

What are you going to do?

I don't know yet.

- Are you going home?
- No, of course not.

I'd like to take revenge on her
but I don't know how.

I have so little imagination.


Friday, March 30.

- Yes?
- Are you busy today?

No, not really.

- I have no plans yet.
- Can you come by this afternoon?

- I will.
- I'm counting on you.

OK. See you later.

Jean's in his office.
He's expecting you.

He's upstairs?
See you.

See you.

What's up?

Here it is.

I have a proposition for you.

Are you ready to do anything
to get published?

Of course I am.
Are you crazy?

It's a good start.

Well... Here it is.

The publisher I work with
has decided to launch a new series,

written as personal diaries.

I told them at once that
you're their man,

and you're writing
a special kind of diary.

- What is this?
- Wait until you hear the rest.

You know publishers, they don't
decide just on a name.

They want a solid story. I thought that
yours with Solange might interest them.

The story itself is just a starting
point that needs a follow-up.

And that's it. I've got
the follow-up.

It was easy. You told me:

"I want to take revenge
but I don't know how."

Here's what I propose you...

A woman dumped you,
and you decided to take revenge,

not on a particular woman
but women in general.

You pick one at random...

But in a certain sense
you let her pick you.

Then no one knows
what's going to happen...

No one but you.

You'll try to enter her life,
to seduce her,

to make her fall in love with you,
and when it happens,

you'll dump her.

And while you're taking
your revenge...

You record all the details,
day by day,

in the style of a personal diary.

I even told them I'd already read
the first pages and they were great.

Trust me, I didn't tell them
the story this way.

I talked about "new libertinage,"

"thought eroticized," a perverse
taste for revenge...

I went all out. As they say:
"You don't catch flies with vinegar."


Correct me if I'm wrong,
what you're asking me

is to live a trumped-up story
that you've imagined?

You think I'll agree?


Tell me, Manu...

You're a man of judgment.
What would you do in my place?

What's it about?

- Jean wants me to meet a woman.
- So?

- He wants me to make her
fall for me. - Anyone I know?

No, it's a woman
picked at random.

Do you think I should trust him?

It depends. What's it for?

To make him work a little.
He's so lazy.

Some job: to meet a girl,
to seduce her...

To seduce her and then
to dump her!

Well, is it yes or no?

I need to think it over.

Come on, just put an ad
in the paper.

No, not in a newspaper.

That makes you look like a regular
at this kind of thing.

Let's just try to write it up.

"Girl able to..."

"Novelist seeking girl..."

No, "novelist" sounds lewd.


Yes! "Publisher seeking...
a student."

How young?

The typist?

Yes, I have a customer
in her 50s...

No, I prefer a student.

Someone under 25...
because they're tax deductible.

It's for a company...

Too bad.

One of my daughters could've
qualified but...

she just moved out of town.

Too bad.

It's done!

My painfully written ad,
typed up and posted by

by the baker's fat fingers.
I lay in wait.

Heart pounding, I await
my muse and prey...

fully aware of the childishness
of my act...

yet delighted with
the risk incurred.

Only one question now
interests me:

what will she be like?

I hate bad surprises...

and meeting an ugly girl
wouldn't be very stimulating.

Here I am, miles from any
moral debate...

ready to plunge into libertinage.

I wonder if I'd better use
a pseudonym.

Tuesday, April 3.

Responses arrived soon.

Two candidates deemed too old
(around 30) were turned down.

I gave my secretary Monique strict
orders: no one over 25.

I bet she was shocked.

She's one of those virtuous women
who love to blush.

The candidate's name is
Catherine Legeay. At last!

She left her number.

I'm a little edgy, like
on a first date.

Say, your ad was for a typist
or for a date?

Your dress is very low cut.

It's a summer dress.

Hello. Ext. 55, please.

You didn't even ask
about my vacation.

- Had a good vacation, Monique?
- Great. Thank you. And you?

Well, I roamed and idled about
far from the "vile crowd"...

as Mr. Thiers used to say.

By the way, here's my
new address.


May I speak with
Ms. Catherine Legeay, please?


Hello, I'm the one
who put up the ad.

Done! The meeting is set.
Her name is Catherine Legeay.

She's French...

She teaches at a language school,
she can type...

She has a rather nice phone voice.

I'm meeting her tomorrow at 5pm
at the "Caf? de la Mairie."

I got to the caf?
10 minutes ahead of time.

The manuscript she is to type
is most edifying.

It's called "Dressing Intimately."

Its author, an old erotomaniac...

a distinguished member of some Academy,
who preferred to remain anonymous.

The text, at once erudite, rather
perverse and gently misogynous...

makes an excellent introduction
to this first encounter.

Excuse me, Miss,
do we have a date?

Excuse me?

I'm meeting a lady here.
Is it you?

No, I don't think so.

Are you the one I spoke with
on the phone?

Yes, I am. Please, sit down.

A grenadine soda, please.

Is something bothering you?

This thing on your head.

You don't like it?

Your hair is wet.

I was at the pool, I didn't have
time to dry it.

I was afraid I'd be late.

I could've waited a few
minutes longer.

I spend most of my time
in this caf?. It's where I work.


Yes, I give them an extra hand
during the noon rush.

No, just kidding.

Ever retyped corrected galleys?


That could be a problem.

It can't be that complicated.

It's more complicated than it seems.

What is it about?


It was written by an old man
who dedicated his life...

to the study of the way women
have groomed themselves

through the ages.

Though it seems to be written by an
old onanist it's rather interesting.

The chapter on beauty spots
is most instructive.

In the 17th century, women wore
what's called "patches."

Little dots of black taffeta
that they glued

to their faces or breasts

to set off the whiteness of
their skin.

On the forehead it was called
a "Majestic"...

Near the eye, a "Passionate,"
near the lip, a "Galante"...

To hide a pimple, a "Thief"...

On the chin, like your mole,
it was called the "Discreet."

Now when you know it,
there are about 120 pages...

That means 4 or 5 days. Would it be
possible to get it back on Monday?

Monday is a bit difficult.
I have other jobs.

You'd better not.

Did I mention the fee? It's
35 francs a page, the current rate.

That's fine.

- You came by subway?
- I walked.

I'll walk you back.


Yes. I've looked for it
for years.

It's very rare, especially in such
a good condition.

Yes, indeed.

- How much did you say?
- 1,200 francs.

It's beautiful.

And the keyhole on the cover
looks lovely.

It's quite remarkable.


Do you still have "Flesh for
a Prayer Rug"?

No, it was sold this morning.

Too bad.

I'll look for another copy,
and will put it aside for you.

Yes, please.

Thank you. Manu, bring a bag,

- Never mind.
- Are you sure?

Don't forget to send me your
next catalog.

Don't worry. You're on my list.

- Goodbye.
- Goodbye.

- Did you see her?
- Yes.

She's revolting!

I didn't notice.

She seemed a bit young, perhaps.

I was sitting calmly but
I took a precaution...

I positioned myself in a recess,
to see and not to be seen.

Suddenly, this girl rushed at me.

She could've hesitated,
looked around...

paused long enough for me
to rush to the men's room and hide.

No, she came straight to me
as if she knew me.

I was stunned and stuck.
I felt so embarrassed.

Accosted by this girl
in that get-up!

I felt everyone was staring at us!
I was so humiliated!

Next to that gorgeous girl nearby!

Come on, she's not that bad.

Didn't you see her?
She's revolting!

So what?


What does it matter?

What do you mean?

Who cares if you like her or not.
Maybe it's a plus.

If she were a men's magnet
that wouldn't be interesting.

No, but between a top-model
and this dwarf...

On the contrary.

This situation could be
beneficial to your writing.

Where's the challenge if you
like each other?

What makes this adventure
worthwhile is...

its difficulty, the fact that you
don't like her.

She's repulsive!

So she is. That makes it
even better!

If, to seduce her, you must overcome
your disgust and redirect your desire -

all the more credit to you.

Credit? It's not you who has
to sleep with her!

Admit that for this project to succeed
she has to fall for you.


Except, women able to love
a man sincerely...

and become attached to him
are pretty rare.

That's why this girl
would be good.

It's often among the outwardly modest
that one finds true lovers.

The women capable of
great sacrifices for love.

Nowadays it's valuable.

Your Catherine is a real heroine
for a novel!

She's exactly what you need!

No, no way!

You have no choice.
You signed a contract.

- Come now, Jean!
- "Come now" what?

You saw the girl! I have no desire
to see her again, let alone to...

Well, I don't give a damn
about that girl of yours!

All that matters is your promise
to me and to yourself!

The work that you owe me,
the diary! I want that diary!

Use this girl or
any other girl, or...

make it all up if you can!
But get to work!

What is it? We're closed.

- It says "Open."
- No, we're closed for inventory.

I expected your reaction.

I knew you'd make trouble.

Saying this girl is ugly
is just an alibi.

You're just scared.
Scared to start writing!

You're mistaken.

You'd rather stick to your menial
secretarial job at the Senate!

You lack ambition, Antoine!

Look, I'll continue on
one condition.

From now on, you'll tell me
exactly what to do.

You'll tell me when and where
to see her,

what to tell her, and
how to behave.

Expect no initiative from me.

I'll just follow you instructions,

Very well.

She will call you...

tomorrow or after tomorrow.

The manuscript has one page

When she finds out,
she'll call you.

Find a way to get to her place.
It might help.

And once I'm there?

Once you're there, above all,
don't rush anything.

- When's the Senate session?
- Late April.

Good. That gives us some time.

The worst would be for her
to fancy you.

If it happens on the first day,
there'd be no story.

You meet, she likes you,
you chat with her a bit...

and off to bed. That's fine
but it's just 3 lines.

That's not enough for a book.

What we need is for your second
meeting to turn sour.

That's it, really sour.
So that the next time...

you'd have someting to make up for.
That's always good.

Friday, April 6.

I found a title for my novel
and a nickname for the girl.

The mole on her chin
gave me the idea.

From now on, I'll call her


It's Catherine. One page is missing.

- What? A missing page?
- Yes.

It's impossible. You must've
lost it.

I checked it thoroughly
before I gave it to you.

I swear it's not me.
I searched everywhere.

Look again.

I will but I doubt it.

Goodbye, miss.


The set-up worked exactly
as planned.

Totally confident in our strategy,
I went to her place...

ready to commit any ignominy
to reach my goal...

to offend the damsel.

Hello! I had the page.
I accused you wrongly.


Here it is.

- May I come in for a sec?
- Yes.

Want to sit down?

No, I prefer to stand.

Excuse me, but I have to finish this.

I'll soon have the first part
ready for you.

It's alright. Take your time.

Is this a furnished flat?

No. Why?

Just curious.

Have you lived here for long?

Three months.

Not bad.

Remember, when I talked
about patches the other day...

women sported them to set off
the whiteness of their skin...

It's wrong. Men are first of all

The patches' function was to attract
their eye or even make them squint.

It was simple but amazingly
efficient - quite an invention.

Jankelevitch wrote somewhere:

"Man is optical in essence."
But women always knew that.

Even the less pretty ones,
those above all.

They know that to be loved, they
have to be far more imaginative.

- It's unfair but that's how it is.
- Oh shit!

- You don't let it dry?
- No.

Funny. When I see a friend with
an ugly girl, I tell myself:

"Can't he see charming
girls abound...

while his is barely passable?"

Then I think he must be
the wisest of men,

wiser than me. He loves that girl for
her true qualities...

because she's nice to him.

But I never really manage
to convince myself.

I think many men rather
cowardly settle...

for whatever they can get.
Don't you agree?

I'd like to work,
if you don't mind.

I'm sorry. Just one anecdote...

When I was in boarding school
in the 5th grade...

There was this tall, Germanic-type
boy who fascinated me.

We were 12 or 13.
He was called Flack.

He never ever used foul

I thought he was more mature
and had more class than we did.

But the fathers didn't seem
to like him much.

Though he was quite a serious guy,
and went to communion every day.

Whereas we were wild.
Then one day...

we learned that he should've
never been in our school.

For this strange attitude of his,
you see...

this both glaring and
vacant stare...

we took to be superior qualities,
were those of a retard.

He was crazy!

That's how I feel when I see
a guy with a cow.

I begin envying his sort of grace,

and then I think...

Listen, I'd like to finish this.

- Have I offended you?
- No.

It's the way you watch me
that bothers me.

Then I'll stand still behind you
so you won't see me.

No, not behind my back!

But you won't see me!

- I'll still feel your stare.
- I swear I won't look at you!

I'd like you to leave.

- Have I offended you?
- Let go of me! Are you crazy?

What did I do?

Get out. I'll give you the text

I really don't understand!

- Anyway, will you call me
on Sunday? - Yes.

I'm counting on you!
Call me on Sunday.

It all went exactly as planned.

The damsel threw me out
in no time.

With my misdeed carried out,
I rush to the nearby florist...

my letter of apology
in my pocket.

There's no more efficient apology
than a bunch of flowers.

Women are much more
pragmatic than us.

They know love doesn't exist,
only tokens of it.

Hence their attachment to
these little signs of attention...

men seldom bestow upon them,
much to their loss...

alien as they are to
any psychology.

Hello, Manu. Is Jean in?

He left 5 minutes ago.

Is he coming back?

- He said to close up and left.
- Did he say where he went?

No, he didn't.

Tell him I'll come by tomorrow.
Good night.



What's wrong?

It's nothing. I'm alright.

Are you sick?

No, I'm just a little tired.

Shall I make you some
verbena tea?


Vegetable soup?

No, I'm not hungry.
Thank you.

Shall I fix you some tea
with milk?

Yes, please.

- I'll fix it then.
- Thanks.

Sunday, April 8.

A diary or a novel
is at its best...

only when its author
drifts away from his subject...

into some personal comment.

I notice that while waiting
for the typed manuscript,

i.e. in the girl's absence,

this diary grows thicker with
thoughts and anectodes.

Hello. Yes?

Hello, it's Catherine.

Is this for me?

I'm finished. I can bring your
text tomorrow.


Tomorrow at 1pm.
I got it.

Wait, I'll write down
the address...

It's 14, Avenue Trudaine.

Got it. See you tomorrow.

Did you receive my flo...?

Not a word about the flowers...

Very well. I'm going
to sink her.

I really hate people who hang up
without answering your questions.

I'm in no hurry,

so I'll let her cool her heels
in the street...

to test the limit of her patience.

I have plenty of time.

A final note before the assault:

Today little Catherine actually looks
less horrendous than the other day.

Could it be that behind
her plain facade...

she hides treasures of

But there she goes,
with her chaperone...

Let's get to work! It's time
for the final thrust!

Good, I've found you!

It took me 10 minutes to find
a parking spot!

- Have you already ordered?
- Yes, we have.

Obviously, even with flowers
you remain deaf.

In the Middle Ages, when a man
asked for forgiveness...

he instantly gained public esteem.

When Gilles de Rais was led
to the gallows...

You know who he was?

He killed children?

He raped them and slit
their throats...

Anyway, when Gilles walked up
to the gallows...

he knelt and prayed for his
companions' salvation.

Then in an immense,
terrible silence...

he turned to the crowd that
had come to watch him die...

where stood probably the parents
of the kids he had murdered...

And addressing that crowd,
he begged for forgiveness.

As the first flames rose
around him...

in the field where all of Nantes
had gathered...

everyone wept!

What's your job?

I answer the mail,
I write inaugural speeches...

If you knew how many of those
I have to write!

It sounds fascinating.

Yes, but not really.

If you need anything, some
administrative problem...

don't hesitate to call me.

So you're a writer?
You work in publishing too?

I do rewrites.

Right now, I'm working
with a friend.

Who is he?

He's sort of an ascetic.

Bye! See you later!

He's an ascetic but he's also
a mediocrity.

- Lunch at the Senate?
- Yes, with no hesitations.

It seems to be going well.

Now you need to see her again...

just like old friends, with nothing
special happening between you.

Normally, after a while, she'll wonder
why you haven't jumped her bones.

Usually, where a guy takes a girl
to a movie, or somewhere else...

it's not for her conversation.

His aim is usually lower.

I have no particular aims in mind.

But these women you date,

then leave at their doors...
What do they think?

What do you mean?

If they go out with you, it may not
only be for your philosophizing...

Why not?

It'd surprise me. You're known as
a ladies' man.

Women who go out with you are
fully aware...

of your reputation and
what it implies.

Not at all, Jean,
and there's the rub.

Women are far less demonstrative
than you think.

How often have I learned, by chance,
in a mere conversation...

that a certain woman found me
charming, or even loved me...

while she'd never given
me a clue!

Yet how easy it is, with a question,
a hint of a smile, to convey interest.

One can hardly imagine...

how many women are unable
to communicate their desire!

I'm sure this girl is like that.

But I can't be sure
until I've tried.

Don't try anything directly.

Yes, you must please her,

but delay any conclusion
as long as possible.

So at first, remain neutral.

Observe her reactions. If you see
she starts to like you, do nothing.

If she's indifferent, then you
must act, like it or not.

She can't be completely

After all, she easily accepted
lunch at the Senate.

The apology trick worked.

I even mentioned Gilles de Rais,
can you imagine?

Usually quotes can be
really dangerous.

But I could feel
she was intrigued.

The Senate is a good idea.
A touch of solemnity.

Yes, but what will I say to her?

I usually hate to share
dishes but...

It's very good.

I'd like to ask you...

Why did you answer my ad?

Because I needed money.

I'd just moved to Paris
from London.

- Hello, Antoine.
- Hello.

What are you doing here?
You haven't left?

No, I haven't.

- You're not on vacation?
- I'm already on vacation.

You're like my husband,
hard to move.

He loves you, he doesn't
need an escape.

It's the best! I'll have
to tell him that.

Do so.

This woman terrifies me.

So you lived in England. Why?
Were you pursuing a man?

No, I studied there.
I got a scholarship.

It's shocking, how many girls
run off...

under the flimsiest excuses...

It's true! For a time, most girls I knew
wanted to go to South America.

Those were the days of flutes,
caps and brown llamas.

South America! In the age
of feminism!

It's crazy! Don't you think?

And you never go away?

I do, when I'm invited.

So, did you get your
degree in England?

- No, I quit.
- Why?

On Wednesdays I go swimming.
Want to come along?

No, no!

Don't you like to swim?
It's good for you.

- I've been to pools before.
- Then come with me!

I don't want to. Besides, I don't
have a bathing suit.

You can rent one.

To rent a bathing suit?
You must be crazy!

If you don't want to swim,
you can just lie in the sun.

- We can go to Deligny...
- No, it's full of pick-up artists.

It's an unbearable sight.
It fills me with shame.

And if a girl agrees to it,
I'm sickened.

Come on, they don't
accost me every time.

I wouldn't brag if I were you!

I'm at the Caf? de la Mairie most
afternoons. If you want to stop by...


- Well, goodbye!
- Goodbye!

The lunch I dreaded
actually went rather well.

I must admit the kid's improving.

My bias against her
is on the wane.

That won't do!

What are these flies doing
in the embrocations?

In what?

The ointments, the creams...

Can't we insert this

I already told you,
it's impossible.

It's very annoying.

Think about my proposition,
it is reasonable, isn't it?

You'll sell them all!
I guarantee you!

I'll think it over.

I'm counting on you,
Mr. Costal.


Authors! They get more
pretentious with age!

He wants a first printing...

of 1,500 copies of
"Dressing Intimately."

"I'll be lucky if I sell
300," I said.

Unruffled, he replied: "1,500
seems reasonable to me!"

"My name is often mentioned
these days!"

You bet! When he goes to a caf?
his waiter greets him:

"Ah, Mr. Petitzon, what'll it
be today?"

How pretentious!

How did your date go?

Rather well.

I wonder... I don't know...

But perhaps she does fancy
me a bit.

Let's say she doesn't dislike me.

What makes you think so?

It's just intuitive
but I can see...

even though she doesn't say much
she's warming up to me.

- We almost hit a snag!
- How so?

Perhaps as a test, she
suggested a swimming pool.

And you refused?

Can you picture me in a
bathing suit? A rented one?

Too big or too small...

with her in a tiny 2-piece suit...

splashing about...
with a cap on her hair!

Well, you might've caught
a glimpse...

Precisely! I'd rather think
she hides unforgettable qualities:

magnificent skin, wild sensuality.

How can you fantasize...

if someone you don't care for
bares it all?

- Authors!
- No, she's not the case.

When will we meet again?

I have no faintest idea.

Leaving her at the pool without
setting a date was risky.

I'm afraid she didn't get my hint
about the caf?...

or didn't take it seriously.

True, my manner hadn't
been very engaging.

In other words, let's
call it sabotage.

Let's call it sabotage...

Until the damsel made contact...

I decided to stick
to my routine...

and to go to the caf?
as usual...

increasing neither the frequency,
nor the duration of my stays.

In short, to behave absolutely

Saturday, April 14.

Sunday, April 15.


Monday, April 16.

Hello, Monique. Are you
leaving already?

My husband's waiting downstairs.

Any messages for me?

I don't think so. Were you
expecting some?

No, but someone might've called.

- Are you staying?
- No, I'll walk you down.

- Where are you going?
- To a restaurant.

- With whom?
- With my husband, I told you.


It's almost a week since we parted
and still no sign of her.

"Discreet," indeed!

I'm afraid my story's come
to a dead point.

I have to wait.
It's her move now.

Or I may call her in a few days.

Here you are!

Bad timing. I'm leaving to do
an appraisal in Orleans.


Go check on the taxi.

- When did you call it?
- They said in 5 minutes.

- So where are we?
- In limbo.

Since the other day?


When I saw her last, I told her
I was often at my caf?.

I went there to no avail.

How long do you plan
to just wait?

I don't know. Maybe a few
more days... I'll see.

Sure, you'll see!

It's not up to me to call,
it's up to her.

That's what I decreed.


Here's my taxi.

- What does it matter?
- Nothing. Carry on the way you do.

It'll be a different story... less
glorious. Duller and shittier!

You have to act now, Antoine!

I'll be back tomorrow morning.
Call me or drop by.

Friday, April 18.


May I sit down?

I'm imposing again! How rude
of me. Are you expecting someone?

No, I came to see you.

I'm going to my parents'.
I wanted to see you before then.

- Are you busy tomorrow night?
- No, I don't think so.

Maybe we could go
to a movie?

A movie? Yes, if that's
what you like.

You're always available.
As if you had nothing to do.

Do I give the impression
that I have nothing to do?

On the contrary, it's the others
who do nothing.

Worse, most of them work
at useless jobs.

Even me?

Do you know why they think...

the time they spend on
useless chores is work?

No, but I'm about to find out.

Because they get paid
for wasting their time.

In fact, they get paid
for their silence.

What if I paid you
for your silence?

I'm not that easily bought!

- Want to try?
- Try what?

To be silent for a bit.

- What for?
- To see if you can.

Of course, I can!

Then hush!

One minute of silence.

I'll tell you when you
can talk again. Go!

Funny! It reminds me...


Please sit down.

- No, I can't...
- Sit down for a second...


Meet Catherine... Solange.

Nothing to say to me?

Yes. I'm leaving Paris.

Where to?

I was offered a job in Roubaix.

Same thing? Contemporary
art exhibits?

Same thing.

And you'll live in Roubaix?



For now, yes.

And that guy?

- What guy?
- From the station.

Is he also from Roubaix?

He lives in Paris.

Nice. You'll be commuting
between Paris and Roubaix?

If my work requires it, yes.

I didn't mean your job.

I got it.

What are you doing, Catherine?

Leaving you two alone.

Please, stay. I have to go.

You're writing again, I see.

So to speak.

Is it going well? Are you
pleased with it?

Pleased with it?

People always think writers are
pleased with their work...

when most of the time we're too
absorbed to enjoy anything!

Do you know what's
on my mind right now?

How I shall write down
this conversation tonight.

I may then go to bed pleased
with what I wrote.

Then read it again in the morning
and deem it a total shit.

At times, I envy the man who
cozily works his 8-hour shift...

comes home, slippers on,
has dinner, watches TV...

maybe screws his wife...
and goes to sleep.

I think he's right,
he's the norm.

For happiness is not
in being witty...

but in ignorance and stupidity!

He may say this today
but the opposite tomorrow.

Such as "The best thing in life
is to take interest in everything...

and the most fun is in learning."

He says whatever suits him
whenever it suits him. Right?

Have you known him long?

Not very.

When you do, you'll stop to pay
attention to what he says.

He talks and talks...

He's good at bending your ear.

I bet he told you his theory
on women in pants.


He hasn't? I'm surprised.

It's one of his classic routines.

You have a theory on
women in pants, Antoine?

Yes. I've never told you?

No, I'd have remembered.

Well, remind me to tell you.

You can count on it.


I'm going to buy my newspaper.
Do you need anything?

- Do you want a ride?
- No.


- I can't stay any longer.
- Stay!

I'll be leaving in 2 weeks.
Do you want the apartment?

No, no.

As you wish.

- Bye!
- Bye!

Bye, Antoine!

Actually, Solange and I lived
together for a long time.

We split up because she
disappointed me.

We agreed that whoever got bored
first would tell the other.

I told her: "If you want to
date another man..."

"let me know in advance."

It's not always possible.

Indeed, it rarely is.

- She didn't warn you?
- No.

What irks most is not so much knowing
you're second to someone else...

What's more legitimate than
being tired of someone?

I too often felt that way myself,
so I understand the others.

What's distressing is
to realize...

that in hiding the truth, the other
thought you wouldn't notice...

thereby taking you for
an idiot.

You say that because you can't bear
to see her going elsewhere.

Men have affairs but
so can women!

One guy isn't always enough.

You know, Catherine,
you're completely immoral!

I don't think so.

Are you that way, too?

Flitting about, left and right?

- So how did you do it with her?
- What?

To find out. Did you go through
her purse? Did you spy on her?

No, I surprised them.

- Want to tell me?
- I don't want to talk about it.

Let's change the subject.
Let's talk about you.

We never discuss you.

I know nothing about your life
or your loves.

Do you have a love life?


Dating anyone?

- No one.
- How is it?

Not too bad.

Wait, let me guess...

You're coming out of
a terrible affair...

That's it. You're coming out
of a terrible affair...

You worshipped a man
who didn't love you...

You went through a great
emotional disappointment...

And that man doesn't love you...

and you're extremely unhappy.
Is that it?

Would that surprise you?

Actually, it was the other way around.
I walked out, I got bored.


When I was in London, a lady
hired me as an au pair.

And I had an affair
with her husband.

At first, it was fine.
We made love all the time.

He loved it, and
I liked it, too.

Then he started taking it
too seriously.

He wanted to leave his wife.
I thought he was in love with me.

But it wasn't what I wanted.
So I quit and returned to Paris.

One night, the night before
you picked me up at work...

he tried to call me.
He'd found my number.

I told him not to bother...

but he kept calling,
so I had to change my number.

Maybe you tried to call me then.

No, I didn't.

I thought you might have.

You got your car?

Yes, I have my old car.

Can you drive me to work?
I'm running late.


I didn't get it: do you
teach or study?

Here I teach twice a week.


Well... Bye!

Goodbye, Catherine.

See you tomorrow?

Yes. See you tomorrow.

It's Catherine.

Hello, Jean.

Here you are.

I was beginning to worry.
Come on in.

- Did you get my message?
- What message?

- I left the message with Ewa.
- She didn't tell me.


What's it about?

Nothing in particular.
I just wanted to hear from you.

She didn't tell me.

So you were just coming by?

I was just coming by.

Well... Very good.

Excuse me. I'm in a meeting.

Just wait 5 minutes.

When will I get the new draft?

I don't know. By the end
of the month.

The end of the month. Fine.
But remember what I said!

In your hands is potentially
a tremendous book.

A great idea! Original content!
Superb writing!

Absolutely! Your style
is magnificent!

You have lots of talent.
Which is quite rare.

If you saw the stuff I read!

It could be a great book,
but change the ending.

It's no good.
Don't you agree?

Well, it could be better.

I'm not asking for the moon!


Well, not the moon!

Antoine? Excuse me.


Did you like it?

And you?

Not bad, is it?

I'll take you home?

Not yet. Do you want
to walk a bit?

If you'd like.

I'd like to walk along
the Seine.

The banks will be too crowded.

You don't want to?

We can drive there.

Do you want to go
on a boat ride?

On a boat?

You don't want to?

No, the dock is too far
and the weather is bad.

The dock on Pont-Neuf
isn't far.

I don't want to. What
strange tastes you have...

The other day you tried to drag me
to a pool, tonight it's a boat ride.

You're very provincial after all.

I really wonder what
I'm doing with you!

You don't like anything!

What do you mean?
It's not true!

- Are we going to stand here
all night? - No.

I want to take you...

to a very special place
for a drink.

Would you like to?

Were you really that keen
on that boat ride?

Leave me alone.

Thank you, sir.

Go on, taste it!

Do you like it?

Do you?


Look how beautiful this
place is, Catherine.

It's unique in Paris.
Look at these couples.

I won't even mention those
behind you, they're totally...

they're sexless.

I love this place.

Give me a smile or I'll think
I'm boring you and you hate me.

Will that do?

One day, early in this century...

on board a train, Tristan
Bernard... do you know him?

A great playwright,
a wonderful writer...

Tristan Bernard was taken
to task by a passenger...

in a first-class compartment.
There was a lady, too.

The passenger resented Bernard's
smoking his pipe...

in a non-smoking car.

"You could at least have asked
for the lady's permission!"

Bernard didn't respond and
kept on smoking his pipe.

The passenger got upset and
threatened to call the stationmaster

at the next stop.

Dead silence... as Bernard
remained mute.

The train pulled in...

The passenger called
the stationmaster...

and reported Bernard's

Smoking in a non-smoking car,
without a permission...

and demanded an explanation.

Then Tristan Bernard turned
to the statiomaster and said:

"You'd better ask the lady why
she's in 1st class..."

"with a 3rd-class ticket."

Embarrassment in
the compartment...

The pipe was forgotten.

With the company's interest
at stake, the stationmaster...

demanded to see the lady's ticket,
it was indeed for 3rd class...

He asked to get out.
The train pulled out.

Picture this: the train
pulled out...

Tristan Bernard remained alone
with the passenger.

"How could you do...

"such a thing to a lady?"

"And how could you possibly know
she had a 3rd-class ticket?"

Tristan Bernard replied: "Because
it's the same color as mine."

Please, Catherine, be quiet!

Hush! People will stare!

Not so loud!

Be quiet, Catherine!

I'd like another.

You're a strange girl.


Because you, who adore lies...

- No, I don't.
- Yes, you do.

You let me tell those absolutely
authentic anecdotes...

which, because they're true,
should horrify you.

I never said I liked lying.

Only yesterday you said...

I never said that. You only
hear what suits you.

I said, in some cases,
when truth may hurt

it's better to say nothing.

Do you always tell the truth?

You never lie?

I have an idea.

Let's do an experiment.

Look me right in the eyes.

What for?

Let's pretend I'm your
English lover.

And I ask you to swear
that you've never lied to me...

and you've loved only me.

I want to see your face
when you lie.

- What should I say?
- That you've loved only me.

- In English?
- No, in French.

Wait, I'll try not to laugh.

I've loved only you.

Say it again.

You're my only love.

It's scary. You're irresistible.

Now you say it.

- No, I can't.
- Come on, Antoine!

OK, give me a second. I need
a minimum of concentration.

I've loved only you.

You're cheating!

What do you mean? I did my best.
I just don't have your talent.

You didn't play the game.

It's you who's the perfect liar...

and I'm the cheat?

Careful, it's liquor!

No, not my glass!

- A sip for your thoughts.
- Precisely.

This stuff's not for young girls.

What do you know about girls?

Not much, but I learn more
every day.

Give me your glass.

No, leave it, Catherine!

You're unbearable!

At first you intimidated me.
I could barely speak to you.

I felt constricted. I was afraid
I'd sound silly.

I wondered why'd you
want to see me.

I thought: "Just another one
who wants to screw me."

It seemed odd for a guy like you
to be interested in a girl like me.

After all, I'm not your type.

What do you think now?

You don't give me
that impression anymore.

You're like everybody else.

- Don't say that!
- Yes, what did you think?

I thought I wasn't like
everybody else.

You look sleepy.
Do you want to leave?

Do what you want with me.

You're turning into a wanton.
I'll take you home.

Let's go, Miss Catherine!
Please try!

Here, take your bag.
It's hideous!

Good night.

Will you be alright?

- Are you sure?
- Yes.

- Remember your code?
- Yes, yes.

You don't look like you do.
What's the number?


See you when you return?

It'll be difficult.

I don't have much time
between my classes.

- Yes, but we can still meet?
- Maybe.

I tire rather quickly of people.

At first I'm attracted
because I'm curious.

When I see them again, I'm often
disappointed. And you?

I don't know.

And you... you never seem
to need anyone.

My place is a mess.
Will you wait?

- Of course.
- I'll be right back.

Come in now.

What were you doing there?

It's silly. I felt like
going for a walk...

and I closed the door
by mistake.

- I didn't mean to wake you up.
- Come in.

I'm sorry.

- The front door is locked.
- I didn't know it.

- I'll give you the key if you want.
- But I don't want to go out.

I'm going back to bed.
I'm cold.

Aren't you coming?

No, I'm not sleepy.

I'll just sit here and
wait until dawn.

I just want to...

make some notes.

May I take your notepad?

Don't mind me.

Are you writing your memoirs?


You can't sit there all night.

Come to me.

I don't want to disturb you.

Come to warm me up.

So you're cold...

You don't want to?



What is it?

Come to join me.


Hurry up.

Hurry up?


I want to be with you.

My feet are cold. Can I
put them with yours?


- Are they too cold?
- No, it's alright.

I'm very sensitive to cold.

When I was little...

I'd always put my feet on the belly
of whomever I slept with.

It was so good.
It went like this.

They're so cold.

- Can I tell you a story?
- Yes.

It's something I've never
told anyone.

Promise to keep it to yourself?

I swear.

- Promise?
- Yes!

Here goes...

It happened when I was
still in London.

It's a little weird and
so unlike me...

but it's part of me...
That's the way I am.

One day a girlfriend told me
she made money...

as a night hostess in a pub.

She vaguely told me
how it had happened.

I kept thinking about it.
I wanted to know more.

I looked for "Seeking Girl" ads
and I called.

A very proper lady answered.

She said she'd see me.

I wasn't sure I wanted
to go anymore...

but I saw it as a challenge
to myself.

If I could do this, I could do
much more in my life.

So I went there.

The owner said she was glad
I was French.

Her clients liked foreigners,
accents turned them on.

That night I went back in one
of my slightly sexier dresses.

Three other girls were there.

They were about my age.

They worked there full-time.

They were very young but
they looked older than me.

Maybe that's why I wanted
to act like them.

Carry on like a woman which they
knew how to do and I didn't.

Then I asked them questions.

I asked them what we were to do since
the owner hadn't been too clear.

Should we kiss the clients?
Should we give them head?

Were we to perform
some erotic tricks?

But they wouldn't talk about it.
I think I shocked them.

I told them all they had to do
was simply explain it to me.

They weren't much clearer.

Then very soon, a guy between
60 and 70 came in.

He was fat and horrible.

He was sweaty all over
and smelled awful.

I thought: "If I can make it
with him, then I'm really strong."

But another girl grabbed him.

She ordered champagne and
took him into a booth.

We only heard the sounds.

He said he'd be "a naughty
little boy."

I think he pinched her, too.

Then I think he got down
on all fours...

and sort of licked her all over
for 10 minutes.

Then the girl got up and left.

Still, I'd done nothing,
it all seemed pretty easy.

Then the phone rang.

The owner said Mr. Machin was coming
with his friends, we were to be ready.

Then they arrived.
Major hullabaloo!

I thought they'd throw us
on the seats...

kiss us all over,
stuff like that.

Not at all! They were
rather shy.

So I mustered up some courage,
went over to a guy...

and started asking him questions.

He didn't like it, so he went
to another girl.

He kissed her at once and
laid her on the sofa.

But still, nothing was
happening to me.

I looked around and noticed
a guy who was just there...

and I started talking to him.

I quickly realized he hadn't come
to cop a feel with a young girl...

but wanted to talk.

Later he tried to kiss me but
I said I wanted to wait awhile.

All around, the girls were
being groped and pawed...

or had tongues rammed
down their throats.

Some danced, others were
under the tables.

In order to put up with all that...

the girls' goal was
to infantilize these men...

and treat them like they
were kids.

The men played the game.

It was strange, a man of
his age... He was 40.

Handsome. He was sitting there
next to me.

It was very friendly.

But I never could have

You have nothing to say?

What's on your mind?


"Antoine, I didn't want
to wake you up,"

"You look so charming
in your sleep,"

"Just slam the door
when you leave,"

"See you later. Kisses.

Want some brandy in your coffee,
Manu, to shake you awake?

Are you sure you don't?
I'm buying.

Your boss is coming.

He's not my boss.


Hi, Antoine!

A cup of coffee.
Over there, please.

- Sure.
- Have coffee with me, Manu?

With a little milk.

The milk's for Manu, I bet.
Right, Manu?

Does he always treat you
like this?

Yes, every morning.

There's something I've often
wanted to ask you.

How long have you known Jean?

12 years. Why?

And you've always been
with him?


You've never looked
for work elsewhere?

Oh, sure!

One day I even quit.

My sister owns a small caf?
by the seaside.

She offered me a job,
so I went.

Less than 2 weeks later,
Jean came over to get me.


I came back with him.


Jean's a rather unhappy guy.

When his mother died
he wouldn't sell a thing.

He told me I could stay
at her place...

but I couldn't touch or
move anything.

Sometimes he just comes by...

he takes a chair...

and just sits there silent,
for hours.

All alone.

Have you seen the time?

I met Antoine and he
bought me a drink.

Did he come back with you?

He was in a hurry
so he gave me this.

Asshole! Did he say anything?

Is he coming by?

No, he didn't say.

Was he a bit strange?
How did he behave?

No, he was very nice.

You never notice anything!

Don't stand like an idiot!
Clean up this mess!

Look at this!
And that!

What is this?

Have you seen my address book?

Watch the store.
I'll be right back.


Is Miss Catherine Legeay there?

- Hold on, please.
- I'll wait.

Miss... I'm not mistaken.

I recognized you at once.

Antoine's description's
quite accurate.

That's what I'd like you to do...
Is your train leaving now?

Yes, it is.

Send it back to me
at this address.

- Sorry for being late...
- My train...

I had trouble getting this
manuscript back.


My train...

Paris, the 6th district...
Promise? Can I count on you?


- Here.
- Thanks.

Wait, let me help you.

You'll see, it should be easy.
It's a short text.

Your work is much appreciated!

Thank you.

"Dear Antoine,"

"Waking you up just to say
goodbye seemed pointless."

"So goodbye, Antoine!"

"You'll understand the charm of
our encounter lies in its brevity."

"Meeting again would be
a mistake."

"I'm sure you see it
the same way."

"I hope this letter will
dispel a misunderstanding..."

"and put an end to
an artificial situation."

"Rest assured, however, that
you retain my esteem."

"Thanks again for that evening, it
allowed me to know you better."

"Wishing you good luck
and success,"

"Cordially yours,

There are certain encounters
in our life,

there are dates and moments
that mark you forever.

I recall this episode from
Restif de la Bretonne's life.

Not far from this very caf?
he approached a girl...

Her name was Rose, she was
a milliner.

He saw her crossing
the St. Sulpice square...

and dared to speak to her
despite his shyness.

He also kept some
sort of a diary.

Without this detailed account
of his life...

we'd known nothing about
that day in September of 1768...

when Nicolas, a poor author
and printshop worker,

encountered love.

Absorbed by his writing...

Antoine didn't notice the young
woman sitting in front of him.

Even if he had, he'd have
known nothing about her.

When you look at someone,
you only see half of them.